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My son is 17, so these days, he’s not likely to tag along with me as I go Christmas shopping at the mall.
With the 2014 election less than a week away, it’s important to remember that an election is a job review for legislators and elected officials. Let’s review.
Flu season is well on the way and doctors are urging everyone to vaccinate in order to be protected from the illness this fall and winter. Dr. Michael A. Kaplan, MD, national medical director for NextCare Urgent Care, cleared up some questions and confusion surrounding the vaccine.
PHOENIX -- State lawmakers cannot ignore a court order to provide more funds for schools now while they appeal the findings, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper rejected arguments by attorneys for the Legislature that her decision the state owes schools what translates to an extra $331 million is somehow not in effect. They had argued that her July ruling was subject to an automatic "stay'' while they seek Court of Appeals review.
She said her ruling simply ordered lawmakers to start complying with a previous decision by the Arizona Supreme Court that they had ignored a 2000 voter-approved mandate to adjust state aid to schools each year to account for inflation. More to the point, her order calculated exactly how much needs to be added to basic state aid "to fulfill that mandate.''
What that means, she said, is her order is in effect -- and enforceable.
Peter Gentala, an attorney for the state House, said Cooper is wrong in believing the state has to start paying the money before the Supreme Court gets a chance to see how she calculated the figure.
Gentala also said that ignores the state's financial problems. He pointed to a report released Tuesday from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee projecting a $200 million deficit for this fiscal year even without the payment to the schools.
Don Peters, who represents the school districts that sued, said Tuesday's order does not require the Legislature to come into session immediately to appropriate the funds.
But what it does, Peters said, is provide options the schools can seek to ensure the money starts flowing and is not held up by delays caused by appeals. And he said it even could provide a method of getting the money even if lawmakers balk.
Peters said the judge could simply direct the state treasurer to hand over the money to the Department of Education to be distributed to schools. That would bypass the Legislature entirely and make legislative inaction irrelevant.
And he said that order could have teeth, with Cooper empowered to jail for contempt those who ignore their orders -- including the treasurer.
Peters stressed, though, he is hoping it does not come to that.
Lawmakers at first fought the whole question of whether they were obligated to comply with the voter mandate, contending that 2000 vote was not binding on them.
That argument, however, was rejected last year by the Supreme Court. That left it up to Cooper to decide what was really owed.
That $317 million figure is what Cooper said would have been available this year to schools had legislators not ignored the inflation-funding mandate for several years during the recession. In essence, she looked at state aid for the last year when there was compliance, computed each year's inflation, and came up with a number.
Senate President Andy Biggs, however, contends that number needs to be offset by the money lawmakers gave to schools above and beyond what was required by inflation. He puts that figure at about $240 million.
Cooper, however, ruled in July that's not the way the law reads. And Tuesday's order says unless the appellate court intervenes, it's time for lawmakers to start paying up.
Peters said there is precedent for what the judge is doing -- and for the schools to seek some sanctions if lawmakers balk.
One is directing the treasurer to distribute the funds under threat of contempt. But he said there are other options.
Two decades ago the Supreme Court ruled that the system of funding school construction violated state constitutional provisions for a "general and uniform'' school system. The justices said it resulted in gross disparities between the ability of "rich'' and "poor'' districts, with some being able to afford domed stadiums while others had crumbling bathrooms.
But the justices did not spell out for lawmakers how to fix the system. Instead, they ruled that if lawmakers did not come up with an acceptable plan, they would bar the treasurer from distributing any funds to schools, a move that would have effectively shut down the education system.
It never came to that. And Peters said he presumes the same sort of compliance if the courts issue a similar order in this case.
"There have been times the Legislature didn't like court rulings,'' Peters said. "But there's never been an occasion where they just said, 'We're not going to do it.' ''
He said no one wants to see that kind of stalemate.
"But I will also tell you that if it comes down to that, I'm going to bet on the courts,'' he said. "Because they can send somebody to jail.''
Cooper is separately considering a claim by schools they are entitled to about $1.3 billion they did not get in inflation funds for prior years. A hearing on that is set for later this month.
Follow Howard Fischer on Twitter at @azcapmedia.
State lawmakers cannot ignore a court order to provide more funds for schools now while they appeal the findings, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Really Want to Dance With Wolves? Head to Beautiful & Remote Saguenay/Lac-Saint-Jean Region of Quebec
A Gilbert couple is facing child abuse charges after their daughter was injured while being disciplined for smoking marijuana.
A Tempe man is facing three counts of child abuse after his girlfriend’s 14-month-old baby died earlier this week.
It took only six words to propel me firmly into The Sandwich Generation. Notably, those words were not “I’d like fries with that, please.”
Someone visiting a home when police show up with a search warrant can have their own purses and personal property examined, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
A man has been convicted of first-degree murder related to the 2011 death of a 4-year-old girl , according to a court spokeswoman.
For many young people, a first apartment might be a cramped studio or just a bedroom in a shared living arrangement. Juggling that room’s living, dining and sleeping spaces requires creativity.
Arizona State University has committed more than $200 million to renovate Sun Devil Stadium in Spring 2015.
A 25-year-old man was arrested after he allegedly fondled females on two separate occasions at a Tempe mall.
GRAND CANYON — The drive to the Grand Canyon's South Rim is easy enough. Get to Flagstaff and it's only about 90 miles (145 kilometers) across Arizona's high country.
In this Aug. 30, 2013 photo, Pauline King cares for her husband Jerry King at their home in Anna, Ill. Jerry was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1978. He can no longer go to the bathroom, bathe or dress himself without assistance from Pauline. You promise in sickness and in health, but a new poll shows becoming a caregiver to a frail spouse causes more stress than having to care for Mom, Dad or even the in-laws. Americans count on their families to care for them as they get older, with good reason: Half of people 40 and over already have been caregivers to relatives or friends, the poll found. (AP Photo/Stephen Lance Dennee)
The renovation of the master bathroom in my 83-year-old father's new house turned out beautifully, with a frameless glass shower and handmade ceramic tile accents. Neither of us wanted to make it look institutional with a grab bar.
This photo provided by Best Bath Systems shows Great Grabz Horizon in oil rub bronze bars placed in the toilet area of a bathroom. Most people think of grab bars for the shower and bathtub, but consider putting one near the toilet as well. (AP Photo/Best Bath Systems)
This photo provided by Best Bath Systems shows the Great Grabz Horizon bars in oil rub bronze and Simons’ valve package for the bathroom. (AP Photo/Best Bath Systems)
This photo provided by Best Bath Systems shows the Great Grabz Signature Series of Burmese teak, acrylic, oil rub bronze, stainless steel, polished brass and satin nickel grab bars. A 2012 survey found about half of those ages 55 to 64 thought that bathroom aids, such as grab bars and shower seating, were “essential” or “desirable.” That rose to nearly two-thirds among those age 65 and older. (AP Photo/Best Bath Systems)
This photo provided by Best Bath Systems shows a Great Grabz Heritage multi-stone brown counter with grab bar in a bathroom. Best Bath Systems has a series of acrylic towel bars with hidden mounts that come in more than two-dozen colors; some opaque, some translucent, some with embedded stones and some that even glow in the dark. (AP Photo/Best Bath Systems)
This photo provided by Best Bath Systems shows the Horizon and Wave Signature Series grab bars in satin nickel. A 2012 survey found about half of those ages 55 to 64 thought that bathroom aids, such as grab bars and shower seating, were “essential” or “desirable.” That rose to nearly two-thirds among those age 65 and older. (AP Photo/Best Bath Systems)
This photo provided by Best Bath Systems shows a Great Grabz Horizon aquarium acrylic grab bar with satin chrome fixtures in a bathroom. A 2012 survey found about half of those ages 55 to 64 thought that bathroom aids, such as grab bars and shower seating, were “essential” or “desirable.” That rose to nearly two-thirds among those age 65 and older. (AP Photo/Best Bath Systems)
A college town full of youth, excitement and a lot of hustle bustle. Newcomers are in and out constantly and there are those who have never lived anywhere else. Diversity has always been a part of the Tempe community and widely accepted.
COMMES, France — Weather conditions over Normandy had been iffy for days. Showers and wind in the morning gave way to glorious spring sunshine in the afternoon, then electric green lightning storms over the sea at night.